Pete Mancini’s energy is jittery but not nervous; effusive, and ebullient, like he’s on the starting line but ready to play like it’s universe. In the Breeze’s first match up against Philadelphia, Pete’s first active game with the Breeze this season, he showed that he’s not taking a single point for granted.
“It was hyped, it started raining, but it made the field beautiful. The vibe going in was ‘yeah, this team is 0-3 but that doesn’t mean anything.’ It was my first game so I’m like ‘I don’t care who I’m playing. I wanna get out there.’” And he did.
“I got my first goal of the season! Actually my first touch was a goal, so that was cool.” It’s worth mentioning that Pete’s first touch goal was also a break.
Pete is not top of the Breeze roster, and he knows it. But this simple fact is anything but subduing. Rather, Pete exemplifies the ideal aspirational attitude for a development player; he’s ready to lace up his cleats at a moment’s notice. He’s a Breeze 2015 veteran and a skilled hybrid who enthusiastically says “yes” to whatever challenge is posed to him while solemnly understanding the enormity of the Breeze’s 2016 potential. Simply, “If you want playing time on this team, you have to bring it at practice.” He shrugs and smiles, “I wanna see the field more.”
“I knew, going into this, in the contract, I might not see many games.” But, like any well-trained athlete, Pete isn’t daunted by the big names or personalities on his team. “Everyone is at equal standing– ‘all Breezers are created equal.’ Working with Rowan [Matthew McDonnell], working with Nicky [Nick Spiva], I don’t see it as working with a “captain” or someone who’s above me on the totem pole.”
Tumbling over his own words and interjecting on top himself, Pete reviews highlights from the Breeze/Phoenix game. “Rowan and I were psyching each other up–that’s the hype you need on D. I was like ‘yo Rowan let’s get down there.’ And we gunned it down on the pull, Rowan and me.” Regardless of how he ranks on the proverbial team “totem pole” or his ability to climb it, Pete has the verve to light up the line. More important, Pete knows, will be achieving victory over himself this season with a strong mental game.
“It’s just confidence,” he says. “Like if you drop the disc, okay, it’s fine. The worst thing you can do is dwell. Confidence is a focus at every Breeze practice.
“Confidence is so underrated you can’t shy away from the play because you think you can’t make it. I don’t care who you’re going up against, if you don’t think you can do it, then you can’t. But if you’re like, ‘nah I can shut this guy down’ then you will.”
By that same token, Pete admires teammates Markham Shofner and Alan Kolick for their mental fortitude. “When they need to turn on, it’s serious mode, but even then they’ll call out, ‘force flicksies!’ They keep the swagger about them.” When the pressure is on, Pete says, Markham and Alan keep their wits sharp and keep the game in perspective. “Just this feeling that everything is going to be all right; we’re gonna grind this out, we’re gonna score.”
Pete’s goals for the 2016 Breeze season are simple but aspirational. “Beat last season’s stats. Just give me one role and let me work on it. Sky someone”– he enunciates with exasperation– “I got beat in the air so much last season. There are a lot of personalities on the Breeze and I wanna be the guy who’s like ‘let’s go.’”
“My goal for the season would be to just feel like I contributed to the success of the team. I feel like I have.”
— Libby Chamberlin, Breeze Staff Writer